The 10 most romantic pieces of classical music

The 10 most romantic pieces of classical music

February 9, 2024, 5:13 p.m

The 10 most romantic pieces of classical music

The 10 most romantic pieces of classical music.

Photo: Alamy


From sultry opera arias to sweeping piano concertos, indulge in the most romantic pieces of classical music imaginable.

Looking for a romantic soundtrack for Valentine’s Day? Enjoy our live playlist, Romantic Classics on Global Player – a continuous stream of the best classical music.

But for now, let’s explore the top 10…

  1. Rachmaninov – Piano Concerto No. 2

    This concert became famous as the soundtrack of the film Brief meeting. But her romance is all her own. Here, French pianist Alexandre Tharaud performs the stunning slow movement – a soaring melody that would go on to inspire Eric Carmen’s All By Myself – with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

    Read more: 10 of Rachmaninov’s greatest pieces of music

    Alexandre Tharaud plays Rachmaninov with the RLPO

  2. Elgar – Greetings love

    ‘Salut d’amour’ was born from a poem written by Alice, Elgar’s wife. As a sign of musical love for his fiancée, the composer set it to music, scored it for piano and called it ‘Liebesgruss’ (Love’s Greeting). It was later published under the rather expensive-sounding French title ‘Salut d’amour’.

    Min Kym plays Elgar’s “Salut d’amour” with Ian Brown

  3. Puccini – O sweet girl, from La bohème

    Puccini does romance, troubled or joyful, better than most, and this aria is one of his busiest duets. It captures the exact moment when Mimi and Rodolfo, the opera lovers, fall completely and utterly in love with each other, before tragedy strikes. It’s a musical match made in heaven, and when in doubt, Pavarotti does it best.

    La bohème – Puccini – O sweet girl – Mirella Freni and Luciano Pavarotti

  4. Rota – Theme of love, from Romeo and Juliet

    The story itself didn’t end so well, but Italian composer Nino Rota’s score inspired by Shakespeare’s most famous romance is so poignant, so simply emotional, that it makes you believe things might still work. For another beautiful, musical representation of star-crossed lovers, try Tchaikovsky’s Fantasy Overture.

    Nino Rota – Love Theme (Romeo und Julia Soundtrack) | WDR Funkhausorchester

  5. Mascagni – Intermezzo, from Cavalleria Rusticana

    Mascagni’s hit opera features one of opera’s most beloved melodies, the wordless “Intermezzo,” which acts as an orchestral interlude within the opera. Just one blast of those rich string lines at full volume is guaranteed to melt absolutely anyone…

    Mascagni – Symphonic Intermezzo (Cavalleria rusticana) | Semyon Bychkov | WDR Symphony Orchestra

  6. Morricone – Love theme from Cinema Paradiso

    Cinema heaven is a tale of love – romantic love, friendship and one man’s devotion to films. The Love Theme is both hopeful and nostalgic, a far cry from Morricone’s Spaghetti Western scores. The Italian composer’s soundtrack makes the perfect accompaniment to the sentimental, romantic story on screen.

    Ennio Morricone – Love Theme – Cinema Paradiso (Love Theme)

  7. Tchaikovsky – ‘Pas de deux’ from The Nutcracker

    ‘Pas de deux’ by Nutcracker it gives a lot of romance. As the Sugar Plum Fairy and her prince express their love through ballet steps, Tchaikovsky gives us a dreamy harp and gorgeous cascading, legato strings. What could be more romantic?

    The Nutcracker – Sugar Plum Step Two: Adagio (Nuñez, Muntagirov, The Royal Ballet)

  8. Florence Price – ‘Worship’

    Florence Price wrote this beautiful, devotional piece two years before she died. Its lyrical melodies, combined with its majestic accompaniment, give it a dignified quality – perhaps of an eternal love, a deep and enduring love.

    Randall Goosby, Zhu Wang – Award: Worship

  9. Chopin – Nocturne No.9 No.2

    Polish composer Frédéric Chopin was in his early 20s when he composed what is now arguably his most famous solo piano piece. It has a deeply intimate quality, as the composer invites us in with increasingly elaborate improvisational passages, never straying from that captivating main melody. Perfect for a cozy evening.

    Chopin – Nocturne in E Flat Major (Op. 9 no. 2)

  10. Mahler – ‘Adagietto’ from Symphony No.5

    One of the greatest love songs of all, the Adagietto was Gustav Mahler’s declaration of love for Alma Schindler, likely shortly before their marriage in 1902. It is a piece full of longing and anguish, beginning so tenderly before her melodies gradually rise, building to a passionate climax. Alma could have no doubt about his feelings.

    Gustav Mahler – Adagietto | Leonard Bernstein (4K)

    80 years after Mahler’s death, Leonard Bernstein decided that he loved music so much that he wanted to be buried with a copy of the score of Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 placed in his heart, open to the page where the Adagietto appeared.

Join us on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2024, for an evening of romantic classical music in the company of Zeb Soanesfrom 19:00 on Classic FM.

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